With a chance to win their second straight series, the Indians look to end their struggles against Blackburn as they conclude a three-game set with the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field on Thursday night.
Though it may not have much of a chance at a playoff berth, Cleveland (45-62) has been competitive in recent weeks after entering the All-Star break with a 35-54 record. An 8-1 victory over the Twins (55-54) on Wednesday night was the Indians’ eighth victory in 12 games.
Cleveland went 5 for 13 with runners in scoring position after being limited to five hits in losing the series opener 10-1 the previous evening.
“That’s baseball for you,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge, whose team has scored six runs or more in eight of their last 12 contests.
Cleveland, however, may be headed for a tough game at the plate against Blackburn (8-5, 3.83 ERA). He is 4-0 with a 1.30 ERA in five starts against the Indians.
Blackburn earned a win at Cleveland on April 24, surrendering one run in seven innings of a 5-1 victory.
The right-hander, though, is 1-1 with an 8.46 ERA in his last four starts. He gave up four runs and 12 hits - one short of matching a season high - in 6 2-3 innings of Minnesota’s 11-5, 11-inning win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Cleveland will counter with Fausto Carmona(notes) (2-6, 7.13), who made his first start in nearly two months Friday, allowing two runs and walking four in five innings as Cleveland beat Detroit 6-5 in 13 innings.
It was the right-hander’s first outing since June 4. The former 19-game winner was sent to the Indians’ player development complex in Arizona to work on his mechanics.
Carmona is 3-5 with a 5.19 ERA in eight starts and four relief appearances versus the Twins.
Minnesota has dropped four of five, getting outscored 43-16 in the losses.
The veteran shortstop is batting .471 (8 for 17) since being acquired from Oakland on Friday.
Minnesota’s lineup was flat even despite Cabrera’s strong game and Michael Cuddyer(notes) going 1 for 3 in his return to the lineup. He was the designated hitter after missing three games with a strained lower back.
“The best way to go about it tonight is to have him DH and see how we get through that,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire told the team’s official Web site. “He’ll start out as this so we can limit how much he has to do. He says he feels good.”
Indians designated hitter Andy Marte(notes) is coming off an 0-for-3 performance, but his teammates more than made up for it. Grady Sizemore(notes), Asdrubal Cabrera(notes), Shin-Soo Choo(notes) and Trevor Crowe(notes) combined to go 10 for 16 with five runs and seven RBIs on Wednesday.
Sizemore is batting .362 in 48 home games against the Twins.